'You came to save a life': 273 take advantage of hands-only CPR training

10/17/2019 ASHLAND, Ohio – There was no way, Ashland University mens’ basketball coach John Ellenwood said, he could have known what was about to happen Nick Bapst that day two years ago during a scrimmage at the University of Findlay.

Bapst, then a junior and a projected starter for the Eagles, was in great shape, better than most, Ellenwood told a crowd of students, staff and community members gathered Wednesday morning in the University’s Recreation Center. “There was no way the healthiest guy you’ve ever coached could go into cardiac arrest,” he said.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

Five minutes in, there was a media time-out. Bapst sat down on the bench, then leaned back. At first, Ellenwood said he thought it was a seizure. But then the young man seemed to struggle, then drift. “I started smacking him,” the coach said. “saying, ‘Nick, Nick, Nick – stay with us’.”

A nurse, the mother of another player, came down from the bleachers. “I think we need the AED. I think we need CPR,” she said. “The problem,” Ellenwood said, “was she wasn’t the one in charge.”

Until help arrived, all that could be heard in the suddenly quiet gymnasium was “my voice,” he said, “trying to get this kid to come back.”

Nick Bapst survived. But not everyone does, the group was told. In fact, Ashland Mayor Matt Miller said, statistics show that of the 350,000 people in the U.S. who experience cardiac arrest each year, 90 percent of those outside a hospital will die.

“I believe,” Miller said, “you’re going to change that.”

And with that, hands-only CPR and AED training commenced, with 30-minute sessions offered free of charge between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., made possible through a partnership of AU Campus Wellness, the American Heart Association and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. The turnout impressed Dr. Robert Pool, AU vice president of student affairs. “Everyone is here for one key purpose,” he said. “You came to save a life. How powerful is that? Wow.”

Participants were led through the CPR steps by trainers Lindsay Crystal and Reko Moreno, with a little help from the Bee Gees and the group’s disco classic, “Stayin’ Alive,” which happens to rock at 120 beats per second. So, it’s easy to remember, Crystal said, even as participants thought of it more as “Savin’ a Life”.

After the CPR instruction, there were opportunities to work with AEDs, get further CPR training with life-sized mannequins and to celebrate the accomplishment of learning a life-saving skill. The training attracted more than 273 people, from local schoolchildren and community members to AU students and faculty. The AHA goal is to double bystander CPR response by 2020.

“You guys really can and will make a difference,” said Ashland City Fire Chief Rick Anderson. Earlier in the day, 47 portable AED units were put into the vehicles of local first responders.

But Wednesday’s participants might find themselves in a situation where they must act before emergency services personnel arrive. “Dial 911 first, that’s the most important thing,” said Ashland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Carl Richert Jr. “Each one of you guys could save a life; that’s how it goes. Just a couple of minutes until a squad or a law enforcement officer can get there to relieve you and help you.”

“I don’t care how small you are,” said Ellenwood, who will forever remember those moments sitting in the Findlay gym. “You’re tougher than you think you are.”

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###